Twin Cities Art Week: Q&A with organizer Rebecca Heidenberg

Twin Cities Art Week: Q&A with organizer Rebecca Heidenberg

Posted October 1st, 2022 by Russ White

Running October 12 - 16, TC Art Week has wall-to-wall arts scheduling across 24 venues. Here, the co-owner of Dreamsong tells us how it all came together

 

One of the reasons I moved here nearly a decade ago was the vibrance and vitality of the Twin Cities visual arts community. There are thousands of artists across every medium imaginable, along with gallerists, curators, collectors, and arts audiences eager to engage with them, not to mention robust support for individuals and institutions throughout the entire state. Yet the question has hung in the air here at least as long as I have lived here: what can we do to network all of this cultural power together, to build a scene which not only attracts talent and attention but that can support those careers long term? 

Rebecca Heidenberg, co-owner of the gallery Dreamsong in Northeast Minneapolis, has an idea of where to start. After moving here from New York in 2017 and opening the gallery in 2021, she saw the opportunity to weave all of these threads together into something singular, and Twin Cities Art Week was born.

From Wednesday, October 12th, through Sunday, October 16th, you can enjoy a carefully curated slate of events across twenty-four venues, from spoken word performances to printmaking demos, a pancake breakfast to a party at Public Functionary. There will be something for everyone.

So I sat down with Rebecca to get to the bottom of how this all came together and where the Art Week might go from here. 

 

Sarah Kusa, Containment Strategies, on view at Catherine G Murphy at St. Catherine University, with an Artist Talk on Thursday, October 13, from 7 - 8pm.

 

Russ White: Where did the idea for Twin Cities Art Week start?

Rebecca Heidenberg: It started in the summer of 2021, when Dreamsong opened. I thought it would be a great idea to establish a better network of like-minded spaces that were doing strong programming around contemporary art. I realized that I had been living here for years and not even knowing myself about a number of amazing venues.

I’ve also noticed that there are people who go to certain venues regularly but don’t necessarily know about the broader landscape. We were also told by a number of people before we opened that there are collectors here but they mainly acquire work from galleries in New York and LA.

This was all nagging me, and I figured that part of the reason must be that people don’t realize what’s going on here. There is a fascinating art scene here, and I think if we can come together and make it more visible, then we can change people’s experience and engagement. Eventually, I think we can also attract more people based outside the Twin Cities and give them a better idea of our relevance within the broader contemporary art world.

 

RW: Yeah, I was curious about that: do you have an intended audience in mind for this? Is this primarily for the local arts-loving community or to attract folks from out of town who aren’t familiar with the Twin Cities art scene?

RH: I think in the first edition, our goal is to get the attention of local people and people in wider Minnesota who might come down to the Twin Cities for it. But my hope is that this is the first of many editions and that it will grow and gain wider attention.

 

RW: Do you see Art Week as an alternative to an art fair in that way?

RH: It’s very different from an art fair. We have a map available and we want to get people out and about to really engage with all the different programs . The hope is that people will also keep going back and really engaging with these venues.

 

TC Art Week's map, pinpointing all 24 participating locations. Full legend at tcartweek.org/venues.

 

RW: Twin Cities Art Week features 24 venues, from Saint Paul to Wayzata, from the basement gallery at Waiting Room to a new exhibition at the Walker, hosting programming across 5 days, including a proper gallery crawl on Saturday. How did you build this coalition of art spaces, and did everyone see and share your vision from the start?

RH: It was really an organic process of talking to people and getting recommendations. I also wanted to make sure that we represented a lot of different kinds of spaces, with diverse programming, different structures, and a variety of programming. I would say the response was immediately enthusiastic from everyone.

 

RW: You worked for most of your career as a gallerist and art consultant in New York City. Are you translating some of the lessons you learned there to this scene? Is there something that you’ve felt like, in the past five years of being here, the art scene is missing?

RH: Yes, definitely, and also more broadly, experiences I’ve had traveling to see art around the world over the past twenty years. My life has been very oriented around viewing and engaging with art for as long as I can remember. I think it’s always fun when there are event-based activities and programming that bring you into new spaces and encourage encounters with new artists. Having a map and an itinerary creates a certain energy that I was interested in reproducing.

One thing I do miss from New York is that it’s so easy on a Saturday to pick a gallery-heavy neighborhood, whether it’s Chelsea, Tribeca, or the Lower East Side, and just wander through it and check out a bunch of galleries. I often make a list of exhibitions I want to see and then check out things in between so there are surprises along the way.

That doesn’t exist here. A lot of spaces are sort of far apart, although making this map of South Minneapolis, you realize there are actually a lot of spaces in this one line that you could visit on a Saturday. But there isn’t really a center in the same way, and you have to drive around more and everyone has different hours. I don’t do it myself as much here, so I thought it would make sense to create a program where, in theory, you could go see everything!

 

Top: Installation view of she who lives on the road to war, 2019. Photo by Rosy Simas. At All My Relations, with a walkthrough Wednesday, Oct 12, at 5pm. Bottom: Tetsuya Yamada's studio. Midway Contemporary will host an Open House (with free ice cream) for Yamada's solo exhibition on Wednesday, from 5 - 7pm.

 

RW: Mixed in among the artist talks and the gallery walkthroughs and the serious art stuff, you’ve also got things like an ice cream social and a pancake breakfast, and it seems like one of the goals is to show that artists and galleries are approachable and not that stuffy, right?

RH: Yeah, I think it’s fun. It creates an atmosphere of community and makes you interested in staying and talking and engaging in a different way. 

 

RW: Is there anything you’re particularly excited for?

RH: I’m really excited to go check out everything! There are a lot of great exhibitions opening: Tetsuya Yamada’s show at Midway Contemporary; Hair + Nails is showing 19 painters, and a lot of the artists will be there for their Saturday event; Leslie Barlow is having a book signing at Bockley; there’s a walkthrough of Katherine E. Nash Gallery’s A Picture Gallery of the Soul, and that show has an incredible number of important contemporary Black artists including Lorna Simpson and Carrie Mae Weems who are two of my favorite artists in the world. We’re presenting a video program on Sunday afternoon called Women’s Work, which I’m really excited about. Organized in conversation with our current exhibition of Allison Baker’s new work and preceded by a walkthrough of the show, the program includes films and videos by Pipilotti Rist, Laurel Nakadate, Ja’Tovia Gary and a number of other incredible artists. We’ll also be showing Courtney Stephens’s film Lesser Choices, which just premiered at the New York Film Festival, and it is an urgent, amazing short film dealing with abortion. 

 

 

Jannis Kounellis in Six Acts will be on view at Walker Art Center, with an opening party Thursday, October 13, and a Conversation on Friday, October 14, at 5pm.Jannis Kounellis, Untitled, 1982. Collection Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Photo: Courtesy Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. ©2022 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome.

 

RW: You mentioned earlier the sense that collectors here – despite there being no shortage of people engaged in art, people collecting art, and people with the means to have large art collections – are shopping elsewhere. Is that true and do you see a solution?

RH: I think some of it is that collectors don’t necessarily know what’s going on here, and I think we can change that with Twin Cities Art Week. My hope is also to encourage younger collectors to get involved. There are price points all over the map. At Dreamsong, we make a point to have original works, editions, and books that are accessible – and that are also available online at shop.dreamsong.art. I hope that Art Week can get more people excited about the idea of participating and supporting the local art community at every level. For more serious collectors that maybe tend to buy from bigger galleries on the coasts, my hope is that this will open their eyes to some really important work that’s going on locally. 

For younger people who maybe don’t know much about the art world or have never thought about getting involved, I hope it encourages them to engage. I also hope that seeing all these different kinds of venues on every different kind of scale and budget maybe inspires some people to think about how they might be able to participate, possibly create their own programs too! 

In general, all of us coming together makes sense to me and makes it easier for everyone if we support each other. That community is already something that I felt and love about being here, but Art Week will hopefully strengthen that even more.

My hope is also that people get out and explore! Even if you don’t know what it is, just go check it out and see something new. ◼︎

 

Terrence Payne, It’s A Comfort To Know I’m Not The Only One Talking With Birds, Oil pastel on paper. Courtesy of Rosalux Gallery, who are hosting a Crawl and Conversation on Saturday, October 15, at 9am.

 

Twin Cities Art Week runs Wednesday, October 12, through Sunday, October 16, with programming scheduled every day across 24 venues. For more info and a full schedule of events, visit tcartweek.org or follow them on Instagram @tcartweek.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. MPLSART.COM is a media sponsor of Twin Cities Art Week.

Banner image: Allison Baker, Worm with Thistles, Steel, paper pulp, silicone, 24 x 24 x 17", 2022. On view at Dreamsong through October 22.



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